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If you find yourself in dispute with an employee over a request for flexible working hours, the specialist employment solicitors at Wilford Smith can help. Our employment lawyers have many years of experience working on behalf of employers from a diverse range of industrial and commercial sectors to resolve flexible working disputes as quickly and straightforwardly as possible. Find out how we can help.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is a variation of an employee’s working pattern, which can be achieved in a variety of ways. This might include an employee working from home, on a part-time or flexi-time basis, or sharing their role with another worker.

What rights do employees have to flexible working?

Employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements – however, this does not extend to a categoric right to be assigned flexible working hours. There are requirements regarding how an employer should deal with a flexible working request.

Which employees can make requests for flexible working?

Any employee who has 26 weeks of service is eligible to submit a request for flexible working. The right to make such a request is not dependent on the employee having caring responsibilities for children or other dependents. Employees who have worked for you for less than 26 weeks, officeholders and those employed as agency workers do not have a statutory right to request flexible working.

How are employers required to deal with requests for flexible working arrangements?

Employers must consider requests objectively and in a ‘reasonable manner’. You must notify your employee about your decision within three months of their request unless an extension is agreed.

What is meant by a ‘reasonable manner’?

You will be expected to hold a meeting with your employee to discuss their request promptly, give careful consideration to the application and to communicate your decision to them. If you reject the request, you should provide a clear business reason for this. Examples would include that to grant the request would result in additional costs, an inability to re-organise work amongst existing staff or would have a detrimental impact on performance.

Can a temporary period of flexible working be agreed between an employee and employer?

Yes, there is scope for arranging temporary, flexible working arrangements. This might be to allow an employee to cope with a bereavement or to enable them to engage in a short period of study. Once this is completed, your employee would return to their previous terms and conditions. After a temporary period of flexible working, your employee cannot make another statutory request for a period of 12 months.

Contact our Flexible Working Disputes Solicitors

Wilford Smith’s employment solicitors take a strategic and proactive approach to help achieve the outcomes desired by our clients. Offering a client-focused service, we will work on your behalf to protect your interests and reputation throughout any disputes. If you have any questions or concerns, a member of our team will be on hand to address these promptly, and we will keep you updated on developments throughout.

Speak to a member of our employment team today 0808 164 1349 or complete our online contact